Waatea News Column: Incentivising Guilty Pleas the worst idea ever


There are few times when a social policy is so cruel, so perverse in its outcomes and so dangerous that almost every thinking person must stand united to stop it.The ‘Criminal Process Improvement Programme’ is one such social policy.This new Ministry of Justice scheme incentivises early guilty pleas by paying lawyers more money for those early guilty pleas!

That is such an obscenity towards justice that everyone involved in putting this abomination of an idea forward should all be sacked!

By targeting the lawyers who work with the poorest members of society and offering them more money if they get their client to enter an early guilty plea will turn the entire underfunded and failing justice system into a game where fast-talking lawyers con their poor clients into entering guilty pleas so those lawyers can get paid more!This is such a bastardized concept of ‘due process’ it should stain everyone pushing for it for the rest of their careers.Instead of fixing legal aid and properly resourcing our justice system, we will save dollars by coaching guilty pleas out of the poor!This is such grotesque mutilation of the values of justice and it must be refused at every level.When you consider the appalling lop sided bigotry that many Māori faces within the justice system, this deplorable idea will see more Māori pleading guilty even if they are innocent.It’s like the Police, Corrections and the Ministry of Justice all got together and asked, ‘how can we make the existing mess of justice worse’?This idea is terrible and makes justice a joke!

First published on Waatea News.


  1. But this is hardly a new idea.
    Throughout human history people accused of criminal acts have been urged or coerced into confessing with the promise (not always fulfilled) of lesser punishment.
    Think to the Inquisition and the witch trials.
    But even in our modern society there is an underlying attitude that if a person admits their guilt they should be rewarded with a lesser punishment – a twist of the old “honesty is the best policy”.
    But of course admission of guilt is worthless if torture or coercion has been used to secure it.
    Co-incidentally I heard an item a couple of days ago on RNZ The Detail about how the legal aid system here is fractured, dismally underfunded and barely functioning.

  2. So it’s simply an incentivised conviction scheme.
    So I guess each law firm will have KPI’s for lawyers to achieve to bring into the firm. What would that level of revenue be.
    $250k per year for a junior lawyer?
    $1m for a partnership?

    Not much of a change from the old system.

  3. With justice and law in the hands of Little Faafoi and Williams it is no surprise that such a bad move could be presented as good policy

  4. I know you disagree with me Bomber but this is just one more thing that I am angry with the Government about. As with so many issues, I find my self thinking “How can a Labour Govt do this??’ and its one more reason, I can never trust any of these people with my vote again. Identity politics matter but real world issues can take a hike.

  5. Efficiency fowh! But it is non violent trickery rather than outright plain violence with efficiency like the French adoption of the mechanical guillotine not forgetting the personal head cutting of the barbarous? desert fighters in the Middle East.

  6. It’s a bit of a double edged sword really. Many lawyers will drag out unwinable cases just for profit too. Either way someone gets screwed and lawyers get richer.


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